Breaking Down the Best: Fallout 3


Last week we tackled Grand Theft Auto IV, and now we’re taking on Fallout 3. An amazing game in many aspects, Fallout topped game of the year charts all over the place, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t a few glaring flaws that had me banging my head against my wall.

1. The Leveling and Difficulty System is Absurd


Pour ghoul doesn’t have a chance. It’s like clubbing baby seals. Radioactive, mutated, baby seals.

There are two problems with the leveling system in Fallout. The first is that there is a cap, which most players will reach in a relatively short amount of time. The second? Once you get there, there isn’t anything on earth that can kill you.

With your trusty pal Fawkes following you around, death is nearly impossible aside from a Deathclaw gangbang. It’s kind of sad to watch a Raider hack away at you with a knife for a solid twenty minutes before get bored and blow his head off. The level cap is coming off in upcoming DLC, and I can only hope there are some tough enemies to match.

Also, when you level up, you’re only assigned a set amount of points at each level. It’s not like Bethesda’s past games where using a sword increases your melee points, trying to pick locks increases lockpicking or favoring a flamethrower would make big guns go up. It’s a limited point value increase at each new level, and in conjunction with the level cap, it makes it almost impossible to increase lesser skills like unarmed combat or science, because no one ever wants to waste points on them.

What is the point of “unarmed combat” in these games anyways? Am I really going to choose a bareknuckle brawl against a mutant bear when I could just stick a shotgun in his mouth?

2. No Customization Makes for Boring Combat


100% chance I’m getting tired of this screen.

Why do hardly any weapons have any sort of effects at all? I know there’s no magic in Fallout like there was in Oblivion, but man, we need to spice up gameplay a little. The endless repetitions of VATS and shoot, VATS and shoot gets boring rather quickly, and if you try to play the game like a typical FPS, the aiming system is nothing short of Neanderthal.

I once found a gun that lit people on fire when you shot them. Problem was it didn’t actually seem to do any damage. Play around with this more, have weapons be upgradable like in Bioshock or have them have special abilities like in Oblivion. Enough with the Call of Duty “all guns put holes in people” philosophy, this is an RPG in case you forgot.

3. The Dialog System is Questionable


If you didn’t sound like Liam Neeson I’d punch you in the face.

Why can no one but Mass Effect seem to execute a dialog system correctly? Sure Fallout is a step up from Oblivion’s bizarre wheel conversation minigame that even after 100 hours of gameplay I didn’t fully understand, but it’s still pretty horrendous.

Speech now becomes a luck based activity. For example in a mission near the end of the game I was given a coinflip shot of talking an evil computer into blowing himself up and therefore ending a lot of my problems. I lost, and a flood of robotic super soldiers ran my ass out of town. Why the hell should that entire scenario come down to chance? Fix this Bethesda, it’s stupid.

4. What’s the Point of This Place?


I can’t tell you how many buildings and mines and subway stations I came across, explored for forty-five minutes, and found absolutely nothing useful in them. Maybe I had to do a room by room, corner by corner, desk by desk sweep of the entire place, but I don’t have time for that bullsh*t.

In most games, “dungeons” usually have an entrance, monsters in the middle, and a prize at the end. But in Fallout barely anything has an “end” since it’s a grid-laid out building, and without some sort of FAQ or Wiki, it’s nearly impossible to discover treasures on your own. And god forbid I do find the “end room” and it’s just some computer set at some astronomically high decryption difficulty I can’t even touch because I haven’t upgraded the useless science skill. ****ing science.

5. The End is a Joke


So wait, does war ever change, or no? I’m not sure.

Perhaps there is not greater pressing problem then the way Fallout 3 concludes. With all the endless amounts of hours that the rest of the game presumably took to craft, you would think more than thirty seconds of thought would have gone into the finale. Instead what we got was a flash of a few stills from the game, another Ron Perlman voiceover and the inescapable fact that no matter what “end decision” we picked, we had to revert back to a previous save to continue exploring the Wasteland.

This is rather stunning considering Bethesda’s last game wasn’t dumb enough to have a fixed ending. They have quickly realized their mistake, and are rushing to make the game playable past the ending in a bit of upcoming DLC, but a few months down the line, and costs money. It’s a blindingly obvious flaw that should have never made it to the final product.

Also: Make the dog easier to find.

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  1. i finished fallout 3 and reloaded my last save to see if there’s another ending. i only killed sentinel lyons… nothing more. so i’m only playing it again (from last save still) to look for the alien gun and the experimental MIRV.

  2. I kind of agree with the level/diff thing, although you can crank the difficulty to ‘very hard’ once you get to level 20 if you want to and that works just fine. I’m on board with the need for customization, and I agree that I’d rather see dialogue like Mass Effect has, but the whole ‘percent chance for speech success’ is how it was done in the first Fallout games, and I’m glad they kept that.

    The empty buildings make sense, because it’s a wasteland, and it doesn’t add up that there would be random piles of treasure in the hardest room to get to. And dude, Science is not a useless skill. If you don’t want to use it, you don’t have to – but since there’s huge quantities of game that require it for access, it’s not useless. It is, in fact, very useful. It’s just not something you like. I think it’s neat.

    You’re totally right about the ending, though. Weren’t we promised something like 500 endings during the hype phase? What happened?

  3. I agree with most of what you said but what really bothered me about the game was the sound design. You could hear enemies four floors up and through walls like they were right next to you. They really need to work on the directionality and volume of the sounds for better immersion.

    Also, I did screen shots of the lowest graphic settings against the highest and aside from a little better bump mapping and less fog all that it changed was the higher settings made everything, and I mean EVERYTHING shiny. Reflections are pretty and all but do rocks and concrete really need to glisten? Seems to me they could’ve freed up a lot of resources and made the game a lot smoother and play better if they got rid of the really unneeded reflections and focused on better vegetation/smoke/polygons etc.

    Other than that I suppose all I could really ask for would be better accuracy when not in vats and being able to skip watching the little bits of enemy head slowly dance through the air for 10 seconds after every kill. That really took away from the action.

  4. better animatios… lolz
    you know… and ablivion with High performance guns and stupid animations… its kindda… well I was desappointed… adn the stupid ati issues… that was all for me… maybe in the future…

  5. come on the game is fun and you are supposed to make time to explore every single room, desk, cabinet etc… take your time with this one it’ll grow on you. not that the game hasn’t its faults and yes you’ve stated most of them but you play for fun that’s what is’s for. Yes Oblivion was better but this is not Oblivion with guns not even Fallout 1 & 2.

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